Gov. Roy Cooper 'more concerned' about this winter storm than the last one

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper and emergency management officials gave a statewide update on preparations for Friday's winter storm.

Cooper has already declared a state of emergency, opening the way for state officials to use extra assets and personnel to respond to the worst-hit areas.

"We are looking at another round of snow, sleet, freezing rain and ice bringing more treacherous roads and power outages. It is a familiar forecast but a different place," Cooper said. "This time, it is the people in Eastern NC that will likely feel more of this storm's brunt. Those in the mountains and foothills will have very little impact if any."

Cooper said he was more worried about this round of wintry weather than the last one.

WATCH: Gov. Cooper's full media briefing
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Full media briefing: Gov. Cooper gives updates on preps for the winter storm expected to cause "significant" power outages.



"We are a little more concerned about this one because it is going to be so cold Friday and Saturday night, and if there are power outages, then we are concerned about some families who can't stay warm," Cooper said. "We need people to check on your friends and neighbors."

National Guard troops will help counties with transportation and other needs, the governor said. There are 114 soldiers with high-clearance vehicles and trucks staging in central North Carolina. They will move to affected counties as needed.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is not brining roads in the Triangle ahead of this winter storm. Instead, it plans to wait for the wintry precipitation to fall, and then crews will respond to slick spots as needed.

That plan is in place because rain is expected to come before the wintry weather. That rain would likely just wash away the brine anyway.

Other areas did get roads brined.

"More than 700 employees and contract crews, as well as about 300 trucks and graders, are working and we are ready to go," said Eric Boyette of the NCDOT. "So far, we have applied 1 million gallons of brine and we have restocked supplies of salt, sand, brine so we can treat these roads as soon as it hits."

Cooper said "significant power outages" are expected in southeastern counties and cities, such as Wilmington, Jacksonville and New Bern.

A quarter-inch or more of ice is expected on trees and power lines in those areas, and that's a recipe for power outages.

"Prepare for your power going out by keeping your phones and other devices charged and make sure your heating-fuel supplies are adequate," Cooper said. "As always, never use generators or gas grills inside your home or garage - the carbon monoxide fumes can be deadly."

Power outages should be reported directly to the power company -- not through 9-1-1.

Officials at RDU said workers are bundling up and preparing the airfield and roadways for "whatever the storm may bring."

RDU staffers and contractors will begin working 12-hour shifts Thursday evening and will work around the clock to clear roads, runways and taxiways at the airport.

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Residents rush for final preps as rain, snow begin to fall. Elaina Athans reports.



Travelers who plan to fly out of RDU should contact their airlines directly for flight status before they come to the airport.

Meanwhile, the typical "milk and bread rush" that happens in the South prior to snowstorms is happening again. However, this time some stores are saying it's harder for them to quickly restock the shelves, due to COVID-19 shortages.

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Robert Royster of Ruckus Pizza said it's been a tradition for them to be open when the weather is bad. Josh Chapin reports.



Not all places are closing.

Robert Royster of Ruckus Pizza said it's been a tradition for them to be open when the weather is bad.

All four of their locations (Apex, Cary, Morrisville, Raleigh) will be open. They even pick up employees who don't feel comfortable driving.

"A lot of our staff can pay rent in a single day, so they love to come work on snow days because it's fun, people having a great time, we have snowball fights outside," Royster said. "Our guests know that Ruckus is open, if it's snow or an event, we have a lot of first responders that come through. We take care of them because we're open. It's a warm place with food, bring the kids, kids-friendly, so those are all the things we love doing for our guests."

Randy Hernandez owns Casa Cubana and is trying to open a new restaurant in Triangle Town Center with business partner Richard Camos called Lechon Latin BBQ.



It's been tough to market it with snow and ice, and Hernandez said, and with Christmas and New Year's being on weekends, that also made for lost opportunity. They will be open this weekend though.

"With COVID, man this is going to kill: it's going to be two weeks that this will hurt restaurants in North Carolina, here in the Triangle, we're hurting already," Hernandez said. "We lost Christmas weekend, we were closed on a Saturday, the week after that New Year's day weekend, etc. Staff is to the point where we want to work, we do want to come to work."

He said they'll be open this weekend "regardless."

WATCH: First Alert to Winter Weather
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The entire First Alert Weather Team is here to help you get ready for winter weather.



CLOSINGS


As far as school and business closings, a few groups are already altering plans.

Wake County Public School System announced all after-school activities must be finished before 8 p.m. Thursday. Durham Public Schools is canceling all after-school activities. Cumberland County Schools is releasing students 2 hours early Thursday and going remote Friday.

You can check up-to-date closings here.

If you are in charge of closings for a school of business, the only way to report your organization's closing or delay to ABC11 is by using our online system. The phone system that was used in the past is not operational. Your ID code from the phone system remains the same and it also serves as your Pass Code into the online system.

If you would like to register your organization with ABC11, please email the following information to closingcenter@abc11mail.com. Please do not mail closing information to this email address.

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Type of Organization: (school, church, business, daycare, government office)
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